This Our Still Life* Review

This Our Still Life film still


A unique and astonishing portrait of people and place from one of the brightest if under-heard voices in contemporary British cinema.

Evolving as a series of drawings – now collected in a beautiful book – This Our Still Life offers a beguiling and expansive portrait of ‘Louyre’, the remote tumbledown Pyrenean hidey-hole that filmmaker Andrew Kötting shares with his partner Leila McMillan and their daughter Eden (the ‘star’ of the director’s first feature, the seminal British road movie Gallivant). A family of artists for whom creativity flows like blood, life in this part-time rural idyll is elemental, rudimentary, fun and intimate.

Filmed over a 20-year period on a Nizo Super 8 and a primitive Samsung digital camera with incidental music from either the radio or Eden’s own CD collection (music composed by Scanner also features), the film explores notions of nostalgia, memory, isolation and love as it offers snatched insights into the minutiae of the Kötting family’s everyday living.

Running from season to season, the film also depicts the passage of time and the surrounding elements, including the local wildlife that encroaches, sometimes threateningly so, on the Kötting domesticity.

Continuing the director’s playful and experimental approach to the representation of sound and image, This Our Still Life uses cut ups and sound-bites to ensure that this portraiture allows for and invites implied narratives, resisting the easy categorisation of biography or documentary.

Spurred into editing the wealth of material following a Christmas 2006 viewing of Stan Brakhage’s Dog Star Man, Kötting describes his most recent creation as being about ‘who we are and what we do’. Informed by the director’s beloved The Moon and the Sledgehammer, and by Gideon Koppel’s more recent Sleep Furiously, the film continues the interest in landscape, family and topography that have driven Gallivant, This Filthy Earth, Ivul and the director’s numerous other non-feature length forays into the nether regions of the moving image.

This is a melancholy and ultimately profoundly moving and affecting work. Viewing it is very strongly recommended, whether you are already part of Andrew Kötting’s select but vociferous fan club or not.

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